Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol

2006 Annual Report for OS05-023

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2005: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Peggy Korth
Water Assurance Technology Energy Resources

Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol


Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol

Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol concluded an extended on-farm research project to prove an enhanced dairy cattle diet and potential fuel sustainability on a working dairy farm. The project charted significant increases in milk production and adequate fuel ethanol production to run farm equipment and vehicles. Implementing small-scale facilities in working farms offers farm industry revolution broadening the scope of value-added products and the ability to supply energy needs for modern technology through traditional distilling and new disciplinary commitment. Collaboration aligned farming interest with industry demonstrating practical application for solving energy availability while augmenting food-related dairy products.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Cattle Feed and Farm Fuel

Research Objective: Coordination of resources to obtain sustainable control of one’s own farm.
The project systematically evaluates the quantity and value of increased milk production in dairy cattle that ate distillers grain and byproducts from a newly assembled fuel ethanol still. Value-added products and processes provide data gathered over the term of cattle feed enrichment. From that data, the feasibility of farmers producing in-house distiller’s grain and fuel ethanol demonstrates the overall benefits for utilizing innovative practices. A list of activities includes evaluating each practice both individually and as a part of an expanded system. The number of different benefits derived from the entire plan, assist in providing economic stability as well as sustainability. Moreover, if a practice provides benefits that may not otherwise be available or questionable in availability for the future, then the current benefits can be projected to include forecasting. This applies to fuel cost and availability, and the cost involved in hauling distiller’s grain from remote areas of the country. Each benefit’s evaluation presents economic savings and economic forecasting. Small scale on-site production of distiller’s grain enhances the health of dairy cattle, milk production, and milk quality. Evaluation before and after feeding from farm source verifies benefits.


Research Confirms Value

Achieving immediate and significant milk production increases indicated a benefit of 10 pounds of milk per cow or per day and approximately 75 gallons of fuel ethanol per ton from the grain processed thereby proving the premises of the study. The nutrient value and charting of milk produced are highlighted in the final documentation and various educational programs developed and presented to discuss this project. Charting production began the week following supplementing the cattle feed with a mix of distiller’s grain and soybeans. Additional biomass mixed with the distiller’s grain (corn and soybean) blended a feed supplement to include green waste vegetation. (Photos available in the educational presentations.) Farm employees commented on the comical enthusiastic relish by the cattle to munch the new fuel production waste and distiller’s grain diet. The cows voraciously ate the mix which was often served warm. Steaming loads of biomass were often moved from the distilling process straight into the feed troughs.
An analysis of the milk itself also proved excellent quality for milk standards. Because the farm caters to the health-food market, only organic corn and feedstock are used in processing and cattle feed. Increased milk production pays higher dividends for the specialty food markets.
Charting the milk production took place over a six month period. The quantity of milk significantly changed during the feeding of distiller’s grain. The highest level of production was achieved the first month upon adding the distiller’s grain supplement. An analysis of milk production showed a tapering 4% decrease in milk production by decreasing the distiller’s grain. After three months the distiller’s grain was limited to corn without the soybean. Removing soy residue from daily ration charted an immediate 1% drop; and the final removal of corn as distiller’s grain ended in another 3% drop. Most importantly, the combination of corn and soybean in the distiller’s grain produced the most abundant quantity of milk. Upon removal of all distilling feedstock additive the production fell as shown on the data chart to levels typical of this dairy operation.
The ethanol itself was used as a fuel in a number of different farm engines and vehicles without drying or blending. The usual ethanol production exceeded 190 Proof. The farm management expects to begin drying and blending fuels in the near future and has been careful to follow suggested guidelines from unapproved fuel use without experiencing problems in equipment for using less than 100% fuel ethanol. Furthermore, the family uses low-proof fuel ethanol as a heating source.

Data collected is presented in the final appendix. Statistical analyses from peer-reviewed journals support the dairy cattle nutritional findings.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

On-Farm Energy Sustainability

The demonstration farm provides internal economic stability and sustainability in all the following ways:
• Increased milk production
• Higher quality of milk
• Fuel production and on-farm fuel use.
• Efficiency of operations including cost controls and workforce conservation
• Open house to visitors who want to follow the on-farm Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol example
• Presentations to farm-related groups for self-sufficient practices

Future planning includes promoting commercially available distilleries for small to mid-sized farms. When the outcome of the study proved that the available fuel can be made and used by the farmer without targeting commercial fuel sales, the project also allows the viability of small distilleries as a way to safeguard the nation’s food supply. Public energy consumption and use relies on large economics-of-scale to supply a world-wide energy glut. Yet, understanding that the energy needs of our farms can be targeted and practiced by the farmers themselves significantly changes the perspective of value. A nation may be able to cut its energy needs, yet it needs to keep its food supply stable. Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol demonstrated this ability.


J. Craig Williams
Tioga County Extension Agent
Penn State University
118 Main Street
Wellsbora, PA 16901
Office Phone: 5707249120
John Painter

Painterland Farms
571 Howland Rd.
Westfield , PA 16950
Office Phone: 8143675238